The Food Muster in Truro uses as many fresh, local ingredients as possible in its dishes.

TRURO – When a Swiss couple passed through Truro this summer – during the end of long trip across the U.S. and Canada – they certainly weren’t neutral about the food at one local restaurant.

Wayne Arnold, the owner of The Food Muster, says he was honoured when they announced it was “the best food they’d had so far on their trip.”

“We do hear a lot that people are surprised what they get from such a simple little place,” said Arnold. “When the food comes to the table, it’s a bit of a shock to see what came out of our kitchen.”

Arnold was a private chef overseas for seven years before opening The Food Muster in December 2015 with his fiance, Tammy Vaughan. He says his restaurant’s nautical name is perfect because he’s always gathering (mustering) the ingredients he needs to feed his hungry customers.

“We gather the food locally as much as we can from local suppliers,” said Arnold. He starts each morning with a cruise through Superstore, Sobeys and Averys, and also selects produce from Withrow’s Farm, Red Mountain Farm, and the Truro Farmers’ Market on Saturdays.

The cheerful 30-seat bistro on Revere Street is decorated with work from local artist Janice Stewart. They’re open for breakfast, lunch and dinner Thursday through Friday from 4:30 to 8 p.m., and just for breakfast and lunch on Sundays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Although they aren’t licensed at this point, Arnold says no one seems to mind – they just stop somewhere on Prince Street if they feel like a drink after dinner. They even cater in-home parties, and sometimes run Facebook contests where you can win an evening at home with your own private chef.

They offer different daily specials to go along with the regular menu, and Arnold describes his cooking as “the simple things in life that everybody likes, only turned up a notch with a twist.”

He’s worked with world-class chefs like P.E.I.’s Michael Smith and Dartmouth’s Stefan Czapalay, but Arnold didn’t intend to follow in their famous footsteps.

“I never wanted the glory and the fame. I just wanted my own little place where I could cook and sing and go to every table,” said Arnold.

And sing he does. He cranks the volume on Cat Country 99.5 FM and sings along with country music favourites while he preps each meal. Sometimes he even delivers the plates to each table himself, taking a minute to chat with the diners.

The Food Muster is famous for their seafood chowder, caesar salad and homemade pasta. Arnold says they sell plenty of soup, too – either a grab-and-go container for $5, or five containers of frozen soup for $20.

Most of their sauces and reductions and gluten-free, and since everything is prepared fresh, Arnold says he’s happy to accommodate people with food allergies or special dietary needs when possible.

“When everything’s made to order, it’s pretty simple to have the best food in town,” said Arnold. “I have a slogan here – ‘Good food, eat right, feel-good food.’”

He’s hoping they can secure a business loan in December that would allow them to purchase the Revere Street property. They’d put in a commercial kitchen, with a bachelor apartment above it, and upgrade the bistro’s lighting, tables and chairs.

He says running a restaurant – or any small business – certainly has its difficult moments, so it’s important to “put your heart into it.”

“The hospitality industry goes through slow times, but if you want something to work, you have to just keep going,” said Arnold. “Tammy and I both have heart and passion for this, and we work hard to keep our customers happy.”

The Food Muster is located at 15 Revere St., Truro. For more information, call 902-895-5995 or find them on Facebook.